Fighting Charges on AAP MLAs: The Method to Kejriwal’s Madness
Why Arvind Kejriwal’s persecution complex is actually a sound political strategy.
It’s not everyday a sitting Chief Minister declares his life may be under threat from an incumbent Prime Minister.
He may have been playing to the gallery, but on Wednesday evening, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal did just that. In a nearly 10-minute long video message, the Aam Aadmi Party Chief said there is a “cycle of domination over AAP, in an attempt to crush it”.
An otherwise dull news day was rescued just before prime time and social media got a much needed comic relief from the dreary Arnab vs Barkha spat when he said, “Prime Minister Modi is so frustrated, he may even get me killed.”
Guilty by Association?
But there’s always a method to Kejriwal’s madness which was prompted last evening, by the systematic targeting of his MLAs.
When Kejriwal accused Arun Jaitley of “siphoning off DDCA funds for years”, he wasn’t targeting the Union Finance Minister as much as Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Delhi Chief Minister even braved a defamation case to make Modi appear guilty by association.
The same strategy might be played against Kejriwal himself. Eleven of his party MLAs have come in the line of fire in the last one year. Of them, two are in custody, nine are out and only one – Somnath Bharti – has been chargesheeted for domestic violence and abuse.
The Domino Effect
Three of the MLAs – Amanatullah Khan, Prakash Jarwal and Dinesh Mohaniya – face allegations of molesting a woman in three different incidents, but in a curiously similar manner. A woman or in one case, a social worker visited the MLAs’ office with a complaint and was allegedly molested by the MLA and his men. Of the three, Khan and Mohaniya are out on bail and Jarwal was booked, but not arrested.
The series of cases against ten of the eleven MLAs appear to range between dubious to inane, but put a long shadow on the Aam Aadmi Party which was born out of an anti-corruption crusade spearheaded and guided by Arvind Kejriwal.
It did not help that the Delhi government’s Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar, who’s known to be close to Arvind Kejriwal, was arrested in connection with a corruption case earlier this month. When the CBI raided the CM’s office in December last year, a livid Kejriwal had called Modi a “liar” and a “psychopath”.
Why AAP is a Threat
The same temerity is visible in Arvind Kejriwal’s decision to travel to Modi’s Gujarat to protest against Dalit atrocities. By setting the election agenda first in Punjab and then in Goa, the Aam Aadmi Party is looking to expand its national footprint.
If it succeeds in 2017, the Aam Aadmi Party could become a serious national player. it is bound to rally more political support and attract more funds to make more noise.
No other political party other than the BJP and the Congress has been able to remain as relevant to national politics as AAP. Take Nitish Kumar for example, who rarely figures in the national narrative despite a decisive victory against the BJP’s herculean effort in Bihar.
With only 4 MPs in a 543-strong Lok Sabha, AAP is able to dictate the political discourse, if not inside, then outside the Parliament. In that sense, they’re a far more effective opposition that even the Congress.
Arvind Kejriwal’s political standing rests on the fact that his party handed Modi his first ever electoral defeat in Delhi. He may have political currency, but he has not been around long enough to have political history. That history is being created each time an MLA goes to jail.
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